Rumours about Dr Pat O’Callaghan decamping to America swirled about for years. Lastly, on Could 4th, 1938, the Brooklyn Every day Eagle ran a again web page story confirming he was on his means, the one remaining doubt, whether or not the two-time Olympic champion meant to beat the world of boxing or wrestling or each.
Protecting all bases, the paper ran an unlimited cartoon depicting the Corkman in varied combating poses towards Joe Louis, then heavyweight champion of the world. In a single, he’s throwing his hammer on the beleaguered Brown Bomber’s chin, in one other he has him in a headlock. Farfetched? Solely to those that don’t realise the stature he loved then.
“An Irish big whose feats rival these of the legendary Brian Boru, ” wrote the Los Angeles Instances in its personal breathless preview of his arrival. “They are saying of O’Callaghan that he’s the best all-round athlete on this planet. O’Callaghan can run the 100 in 10 seconds flat.
“He can hurdle near the Olympic marks. He can pole vault with the perfect and excessive bounce round six foot 4 inches. He excels on the discus and weights and is the perfect hammer thrower in your entire world.”
The boxing by no means materialised however on June 1st, the two-time hammer gold medallist made his professional wrestling debut on the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles. A Mexican nicknamed El Pupo (the octopus) needed to retire with a damaged arm after being flung by means of the ropes by the neophyte grappler some had been already calling Dr Hercules.
Different monikers included The Irish Hammer, the wavy-haired Adonis from Erin, and The Wild Irish Rose. Inevitably, headline writers had been overfond of describing the six foot two, 17 stone native of Derrygallon as “a broth of a boy.”
“Each ounce is iron,” wrote Grantland Rice, the pre-eminent sportswriter of the time. “He’s extra powerfully constructed than Jim Londos or Strangler Lewis (the 2 brightest stars in wrestling’s firmament) and he might take them collectively and break them like brittle sticks.”
It appeared O’Callaghan didn’t fairly realise he had signed on to one thing that was extra showbiz than sport
At 32, married with two children and a burgeoning medical profession, O’Callaghan was in an odd place. Having rebuffed Sam Goldwyn’s invitation to succeed Johnny Weismuller as Tarzan after his triumph on the Los Angeles Video games, his bid for a 3rd successive Olympic title in Berlin had been thwarted by internecine warfare involving rival governing our bodies in Irish athletics, and his life tinged by tragedy when a baby was killed by a hammer at a meet wherein he was concerned.
He’d turned down profitable provides to show professional earlier than, and, on a kind of events, a determined promoter took Danno Mahoney, a a lot lesser athlete, in his stead and moulded him right into a champion. Edward Delaney, the newest impresario to strive his luck, dangled the prospect of $100,000 for 12 months work and talked of a title battle between the 2 Irishmen lighting up the American field workplace.
To get there required piecing collectively a believable resume so, all through the summer season of 1938, O’Callaghan fought usually on the west coast circuit, recording victories over seasoned execs like King Kong Kashey, Frank Malcewicz, Chief Little Wolf and Bobby Stewart.
All the things was going to plan till the night time he was put in towards KO Koverly, a Yugoslav who made his dwelling as a dastardly heel, usually departing the world underneath police escort. The script for his bout with O’Callaghan referred to as for him to play the autumn man and, in defeat, amplify the credentials of the newcomer. No one was ever positive whether or not Koverly improvised a distinct consequence at his personal behest or that of a scheming promoter, however, utilizing hardened tape wrapped round his fist, he shortly made a bloody mess of his opponent’s face.
Though the referee by some means declared the competition a draw and O’Callaghan was so irate on the underhand ways he challenged Koverly to a bareknuckle boxing battle for $1000, irreparable injury was executed to his credibility. Inside weeks he was again in Eire, the place he established a Basic Observe in Clonmel and have become a stalwart of Commercials GAA membership.
For months after, nonetheless, at the same time as reels of his fights had been nonetheless taking part in in American film theatres as a part of the preview shorts operating earlier than the newest Roy Rogers’ flick, controversy raged about his ill-fated flirtation with wrestling.
From the offended tenor of his feedback upon returning house, together with an allegation a promoter referred to as Toots Mondt demanded he stump up $25,000 of his personal cash to make sure a shot on the title, it appeared O’Callaghan didn’t fairly realise he had signed on to one thing that was extra showbiz than sport.
He might have been duped by the actual fact O’Mahoney changing into world champion had been reported by the gullible Irish media as a real athletic triumph relatively than the pre-arranged business resolution of a consortium referred to as the syndicate.
The identical shady characters who had shortly realised their newest, dearer Irish signing wasn’t minimize out for the ersatz fight, antic buffoonery and practiced chicanery concerned. And when his criticisms filtered again throughout the Atlantic, Ring journal took him to activity in an editorial.
“Dr O’Callaghan was dropped at America not as a result of he is aware of something about wrestling, for he doesn’t, however due to his color,” went the piece. “It was figured that he might draw properly among the many Irish due to his nice athletic capacity however to name him a wrestler could be stretching issues too far.”